This story has haunted me since I blogged about it; the sheer malevolency of "baiting" as a strategy is like a big gut check to anyone who still retains their humanity. Diane at MiaCulpa looked closer at the "Painted Demons":
There was a moral question hovering over the sniper team before Hensley arrived, members said. If they had been authorized to bait an area with bomb-making materials and other props, then lie in wait to kill anyone who fell for the trap, couldn't they also lay the props down after they killed someone?
Sgt. 1st Class Steve Kipling, Hensley's predecessor, had broached the question, Sgt. Anthony Murphy recalled. "He said, 'Should we, or what do you think? Should we make the body look -- basically, should we make it look more 'guilty'? "
The answer in the U.S. military's code of conduct is unequivocal: no.
But commanders seemed unhappy with the snipers' performance, and there was pressure to produce results, members said.
And Diane has some valid, but painful, questions that must be asked of this practice of baiting:
Two things stand out to me right now about the practice of baiting. 1) Where did the count of the dead fit into the Iraqi casualties, if they were counted at all? It seems there would be significant numbers with teams of snipers focused only on killing day in and out.
Then 2) Just an observation, that apparently being 'liberal' is only okay during this administration's reign when it comes to interpreting law, or codes of conduct. Odd, that.